My Journey To Becoming Vulnerable

What happens when we start embracing vulnerability and learning acceptance in life?

Marie Jeanderine Cook
Jul 11 · 6 min read

If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” Brene Brown

Recently I embarked on a journey of self-discovery, acceptance, authenticity, and working toward self-actualization, but I realized that all aspirations mentioned above would not happen unless I understood and embraced the ‘Power Of Vulnerability,” which reminds me of a familiar quote. Though the concepts differ, it carries the same connotation.

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

We cannot grow if we choose to stay in familiar places or places of comfort. We may think that is what we like and prefer because we do not know anything else. We may fear or be unwilling to try new things because we fear failure or exposing our weaknesses.

What if people see who I really am? What if they change their behavior towards me after this? Will I still be accepted? Can I still fit in?

Vulnerability

Like Brene Brown says, most of the time, vulnerability is mistaken for weakness, and feeling vulnerable is mistaken for failure. She defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” Staying in our comfort zone because of fear of uncertainty will cause us not to grow. Nothing is guaranteed in life. For example, the act of making new friends or falling in love. Those relationships are not guaranteed, but we tend to trust them. They are risky too because your best friend can be a gossip who cannot shut their mouth and retells everything they hear.

Example of uncertainty in life

During college, there was this girl who was super friendly, an ideal friend for anyone. Broad smiles and an attentive listener, but those good traits came with the inability to shut her mouth. Yet, she was never without friends. All I am trying to point out here is that every good thing may come with a price here and there.

Two weeks ago, I decided to practice “Vulnerability” in a way I never did before after watching the “Power Of Vulnerability” by Bene Brown. This topic may not seem as shocking to you as it is me, but I struggled a lot with it, and it almost seemed like a taboo to even say.

Start of my journey

The one week journey that I embarked on was to become vulnerable to my husband. In other words, my journey to uncovering my inner self. Vulnerability is defined as “The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally” (English Oxford Living Dictionaries). Hearing the word ‘SEX’ or any topic pertaining to the word always makes me feel uncomfortable to this day. Therefore, I decided to use this for my vulnerability challenge.

Reflection on my progress

Wow, I am genuinely amazed at myself. I never thought that I would randomly start talking about sex, much less initiating it. I grew up in a society where the word sex was taboo. No one really talked about it even though they may be engaging in it. It was unheard of for even close friends, both married and unmarried, especially girls or women to talk about sex freely. The only time you heard about it was when your parents might warn against having it when admonishing to waiting till marriage. I remembered when I first came to the United States. In class, the girls sitting next to me started discussing some footballer guy who was good in bed, and I thought, ‘what is happening? What would their parents say, or do to them if they heard what they are saying?” I was shocked, maybe my first instance of culture shock in America.

Sex as a taboo

Sex has been one of my biggest taboos, and I always shy away from talking about it, even with my husband. The vulnerability journey was a hard one for me, and I do not even know where I got the courage. It was entirely out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to challenge myself and my beliefs. I tend to believe that women should not initiate sex even with their husbands because it seems inappropriate and unladylike. There is often a bad connotation with women and sex. Whenever a woman shows her sexuality in my culture and religious belief system, the woman is usually regarded as promiscuous or a prostitute and can be outcast.

That is why I am always careful when it comes to sex, but I always wanted to be able to express my sexual desires without feeling shame and guilt. Honestly, I was ashamed the first night, and my husband was surprised and even asked me what was really going on.

Not letting his reaction overshadow my journey

Even though his questions were respectful and his tone calm, I was like, “There you go; now he is going to think that I am a ‘wolf in a sheep’s clothing’ (playing innocent all this while).” I almost stopped my attempt, but I continued because it would make the situation even more awkward and uncomfortable for both of us, and I did not want to create that atmosphere in my marriage. The second day I managed to bring up the topic and started talking about it again. I was still uncomfortable, but I had to persevere no matter what. Toward the end of the week, I became much better at it and started to feel a bit more comfortable. I know if I am to continue on this discovery, I will need more courage to unmask and enjoy my freedom to explore and conquer my utmost fear, which is sex. I still have a long way to go, and I want to continue, but to take it at a much slower rate.

Lessons to learn from this journey of becoming vulnerable

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Brene Brown

  • Shame: Shame destroys or eliminates the core that enables us to believe that change of any kind is possible. But empathy overcomes shame, and where empathy exists, shame does not live.
  • Authenticity: “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”Brené Brown. Letting others see us for who we are and not what we are, frees us from wearing masks or putting up an act of pretense.
  • Vulnerability: it is vital and exists at all levels of success, self-actualization, or personal growth. If we hide from the world, then the world will not benefit from our gifts and talents, and we also missed the opportunity to showcase our talents and gifts.
  • Emotions: Our Emotional pains will either elevate us or bury us depending on whether we choose to embrace them. We can experience both negative and positive emotions or numb them and feel nothing.
  • Darkness: Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brene Brown. Wherever there is darkness, light exists somewhere not far away.
  • Love: Vulnerability deepens our love and compassion for ourselves and for others. It allows us to embrace our imperfections and give us the chance to learn and grow
  • Perspective: When we change our perspective about something, then we react differently. When I started to accept the fact that it is okay to talk about sex and enjoy it, it was no longer a big deal when my actions were questioned.
  • Courage: “Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” — Brene Brown. I am still fighting back my self-talk, even regarding this post. Thoughts like “Are you sure you want people to know about this? How will you handle the criticism? Are you really being a good role model for the younger girls, especially your cousins? How will your father react?” But I am choosing to go ahead and publish it because I know I am more than what the eyes can see, and I still need to dig more to fully understand myself, my talents, my potential, my strengths, my weaknesses, my fears, etc.

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment.

Marie Jeanderine Cook

Written by

Former Behavioral Health Case Manager. Graduate student in Counseling, Mental Health and Wellness at NYU. Loves Writing, Cooking, Helping Others & Family.

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment.